T Nation

Is Having a Spotter Good or Bad?


I didn't know where to put this question, but I think that a bodybuilders use more spotters than any one else.

My question is: do you think a spotter is a good thing or bad? I pose this question, because I did a little experiment in the gym this morning; I stared of with incline bench db press, now normally I don't use a spot at all! But today I want to try and set a new PB. Now normally I would start on 34kg db for 3-4reps and make my way up to 40kg db, and that is a push, without a spot.

But today I used a spot and managed 3 reps with 42kg db, something I could not do on my own. So I wounder is it a good thing to have a spot because it makes you go heavier and overload the muscle more or is it a bad thing because it give you a false sense of strength, and a negative effect physiological because if you don't have spot and try the weight you would fail.

PS: when he was spotting me he did not help with the weight just kept his hand on my elbows, just in case I stalled.


A spot on DB'S is pretty useless unless you want to do force reps or you're, for example, doing inclines and you're having trouble setting the first rep.

If you always need "spotter" help to progress in reps or weight, then maybe you're doing something wrong.

You say "normally I would start on 34kg db for 3-4reps and make my way up to 40kg db, and that is a push, without a spot. But today I used a spot and managed 3 reps with 42kg db, something I could not do on my own"

That means you rarely progress in weight or reps ? Your issues are more there and in your diet than worrying about "force reps physiological impact".


Spotting helps you break plateau's

If you're form stays the same on heavyer weights there is no reason for it to be "false"
The "secure" feeling you get with a spot gives you a mental boost.

Just make sure the spotter doesn't have to assist you on every rep, a slight help to grind out the last 1 or 2 two reps is just fine.


Most of the guys at my gym are terrible as spotters. They just lift the weight for you......whats the point?


The best thing about a spotter on db pressing is that you can get help with the first rep. Which can make progression a lot easier.

God I hate the first rep.


x2, and if you can get the same guy to spot you every time that's a huge plus. Try finding someone who trains around the same time you do regularly. It's much easier for me to make gains on the bench press in particular if I have someone spotting.


@StompingHorse: I do understand where you are coming from, but 2months ago I could only do 34kg db for 3-4reps that was my max weight. I have increase up 40kg on my own in last two months to become my max 3-4 rep max.


It all depends on how much you use/rely on the spotter. My training partner Corey provides much more of a psychological/mental support for me when we train together than actually assisting in any physical way. If I can't get the weight I'm "lifting", I shouldn't be trying to make use of it in stimulating hypertrophy gains - Please don't start on me with PRs, I'm a bodybuilder so I couldn't care less. I see young kids spotting each other on every rep of every exercise so much that it's just ridiculous. THAT is the prime reason these kids don't make progress. Besides, my usual answer to why I don't use a spotter is simple:

If there's a bit of fear motivating you to lift the weight, chances are better that you'll have to dig down and actually do it. :slightly_smiling:



I like doing my pressing off pins so I don't use a spotter. I do have a guy that keeps my form and reps in check though.


I lift alone, and have made great progress without a spotter. If i really need one cause i'm going for a 1 or 2 rep max then i'll ask, but i'm very careful who to ask due to some bad experiences!!! namely, i was shoulder presses with DB and needed a bit of help just getting the first rep up. Asked some dude whon looked in good shape and like he knew what he was doing.

Anyway, i get the DB up to my shoulders and go to press and give him the nod. At this point he proceeds to push as hard as he can down on my shoulders. I quickly put down the weights, gave him a WTF look, and said thanks but no thanks. Anyway, strayed off on a bit of a tangient but my point is, the vast majority of the time you dont need a spot and it can actually be detrmental if you get some dick like the one i had!


Good and bad.

Good: You find a guy/training partner who can spot for you consistently, and he knows exactly what you need. That's always nice. Especially with some of the things Stu alluded too - feeding off of energy and things like that. Always great.

What's horrible are the random spots that you get. I'll sit there and fucking describe to them to NOT TOUCH THE GODDAMN bar unless motion stops and all of a sudden during the set I see their hands underneath the bar, and I could magically get like 6 more reps. Hmmmmmmmmm.

As for needing one? IDK. I needed one the first time I ever benched 225. That was heavy. And then I needed one the first time I ever benched 315. It was heavy. I'm hoping to need one when 405 rolls around - but I'll let you know then. (What I'm trying to say here is that as weights get higher, I feel like it's pretty necessary to have a spot on certain exercises.) And that's without even getting into the 1st rep of db benching...


Both, why must we have an all or nothing answer.


Here's a great way to make any average joe at the gym the best spotter:
Before you start your set, you say: "If I need help, I will verbally say 'help!' If you do not hear that, let me push it out." I've never had a problem with any spotter dropping in too soon or not soon enough.

Who cares if you got a PR because of the psychological effect of having a spotter? YOU STILL LIFTED THE WEIGHT ON YOUR OWN! Good work! Given you take my advice above, I'd say more than not spotter = GOOD.


What a dick! That's a great way to screw up a set. Check out my above post. You should never have that kind of problem again.